EVE online is probably very rich indeed for its story and environment and depth of exploration, and one of the frontline ships in this exploration is the Astero. Available to most Alpha players, although maximum capacity of this ship is usually touted with “do not undock this ship without Covert Ops Clock.” Which then shifts the Astero into the realm of the Omega Clones.
However, the main question is, is the Astero too powerful for its class? Technically not a Covert Op ship, but its fighting power and benefits make it fully capable to taking on Cruisers and Battlecruisers and winning alone. In Small Gangs these ships can tackle far more powerful big game than one would think.
The Astero is a frigate par excellence. Although many prefer the Wyrm for Abyssals because of its 20% shield resistance bonus and 300% light drone bonus, the Astero can field a 20% armor resistance bonus which conveniently is buffed by skills and modules and 100% hitpoint drones. Which range from light combats all the way to Sentry Drones.
The main hang up with the Astero is its two high slots, but with a 100% cloak bonus [which Covert Ops ships have to upgrade to V to get such benefits] this is not mostly even worried about. Standard Astero fitting dictates that the ship is fit with Covert Cloak and a Probe/Expanded Probe Launcher. On paper the Astero should be weaker than most T2 Cov Ops. But the Astero can ruthlessly prosecute and fight opponents far larger and well equipped and come out on top.
Astero allows alot of players to enter into exploration rather comfortably even engage in fairly low level PVE with its drone options. It is probably only eclipsed by AT ships and the Pacifier. Pacifier can out fit and weapon it, but the trade off is the total lack of drones. And its shield bonus requires a pretty high security status. Theoretically giving Concord ships with the right implants and upgrades 75-100% armor/shield rep bonuses, if stacked with the max security status.
So Asteros are considered the dominate exploration ship because of all the options they have. Although Covert Ops get a higher 50% scan power bonus, they were before buff rather flimsy, but later they even got worse. Why do you ask?
Look at the bonuses pre-buff vs. post buff.
+25% small projectile damage and +50% small projectile optimal range bonus Pre-“Buff” vs. +25% velocity under cloak and -75% warp capacitor usage.
+25% small hybrid damage and +50% light drone thermal damage Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% velocity under cloak and -75% warp capacitor usage.
+25% rocket damage -25% capacitor recharge Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% increase in probe power and -75% warp capacitor usage
+25% Kinetic Light Missile and Rocket Damage +25% rate of fire bonus for light missile and rocket launchers Pre-“Buff” vs. 25% increase in probe power and -75% warp capacitor usage.
Ironically the Covert Op “Buff” actually nerfed the ships in weird ways. although the increased lower and mid slots for some ships was a side buff, but because of the neutralization of combat bonuses. players can’t compete with the Astero.
The Combat Bonuses should have been kept.
All ships should have gotten under cloak velocity bonuses.
The Survey Probe Launcher Bonus needs to be removed from the Cov Ops and bonused for the Utility Frigate.
Warp Capacitor Usage Bonus is “debateable” but should be a role bonus not a race/cov op bonus.
The +1 low slot and the +1 upper slot balancing makes sense. Although in the case of many ships this is a bit anemic.